1. Trivial Matters
Author's Note: Many thanks go out to Docmon, the amazing beta, without whom this story would be even more inane than it already is. Any semblence of coherency is due to her.
Legolas prided himself on his ability to adapt quickly and efficiently. It was a skill he had developed as an archer in Mirkwood, and its value had been driven home time and time again in Dol Guldur's shadows. More than once, swift adjustments had saved both his life and the lives of those he commanded. Indeed, it could be argued that the ability to adapt at a moment's notice was one of the factors that had enabled Thranduil's realm to reach the end of the Third Age, and Legolas had honed this ability until it was art.
Little could surprise him. He could sense any shift in the air and any pause in the wind. He knew the voices of good creatures and could hear in their speech the tones that signaled another's approach. He had traveled the ruins of a fallen dwarven realm and ventured onto the paths of those who no longer drew breath. He had survived the lonely skirmish and the epic war. He had witnessed battles between Maiar and an Istar's breaking. He knew the brush of darkness and had seen the world beneath the shadow. He knew the light of hope and had seen the fulfillment of dreams. His life had been touched by events of such immense import and scale that few things left in the world had the power to confound him.
He was Legolas! Lord of Ithilien's elves! Son of Greenwood's greatest king! Heir to the enduring lineage of the Sindar and master of the woodcraft that had long safeguarded the Silvan elves! He had the means and tools necessary to meet any situation. He possessed the skills and training needed to combat any enemy. With his resources and his experiences, there was nothing with which he could not cope!
"Sweet Elbereth's stars, will you cease!?"
Hunched over a map of Harad, Aragorn started and looked up in surprise. At his side, Faramir lowered a glass of mulled wine and turned to the elf with concern. "Legolas?" he questioned.
"Valar only know how we shall get anything accomplished with these incessant noises! For nearly three hours I have endured it, and I marvel that you are still sober enough to keep your feet. But I can endure it no longer!"
"Legolas, what are you—"
"Enough!" the elf snapped, his voice rising. "We have been closeted together far too long, the noon hour has struck, and it is well past the time we broke for refreshment. I go now to seek a place where I may have a meal in peace, and I will meet with you again in an hour's time. No sooner!" he growled, his eyes flashing as he looked to the king.
Recognizing the signs of a dangerous temper brought to its boiling point, Aragorn quickly agreed. "One hour, then."
Legolas was in motion before Aragorn finished speaking. With a curt bow for the king that seemed to hold more mockery than courtesy, the elf sent Faramir a glare capable of cooling Orodruin before exiting the room in what could only be described as a huff. A long moment of silence followed, and then Aragorn turned to Faramir, his expression one of disbelief.
"Did I not say it would be so?" Faramir asked, now quietly sipping his wine.
"You did, but until now, I doubted your words. Rarely have I seen Legolas so upset." Aragorn started to ask whether Eowyn had uncovered such a peculiar sensitivity, but he stopped himself before he could imply that the Lady of Ithilien slurped her wine. "How did you discover this?" he asked instead.
"Gimli," Faramir answered, and off Aragorn's look, he explained: "The dwarf noticed it last year when Legolas attended a festival in Edoras. Some…rougher elements of the Rohirrim were present and Legolas soon separated himself from the celebrations. It took Gimli a week or so to learn why, but when he realized the answer, he tried it for himself. As he put it, the results were truly entertaining."
Aragorn shook his head and glanced back at the door. "Indeed they are. I did not know that our proud elven friend had such an aversion to slurping wine. Though I must confess," he added with a sidelong look at his steward, "that if Legolas had not acted when he did, you might have faced a more dangerous adversary. Your noises were driving me to distraction."
"Sincerest apologies," Faramir answered, though there was little apology on his face. "In the future, I will take greater care to conduct myself with proper decorum."
"You are of willful mind today, Lord Steward," Aragorn warned, but he smiled as he spoke.
Faramir tipped his glass in response. "My thanks," he answered, prompting a laugh from the king. "But I do find it strange," he continued, "that something so small could prove to be so irksome, particularly for Legolas."
"It is strange, yet it is not entirely unexpected," Aragorn said. "I have found that it is often the small things which prove to be a man's undoing. Or an elf's. Large matters must be endured for there is no other option. They cannot be changed or avoided, and thus adjustments are made. Not so with trivial affairs."
"True enough," Faramir conceded. "I saw that frequently during our wars with the Nameless One. The shadows of his power crept over our lands, and having no other recourse, the people adapted. Yet petty and meaningless things would continue to upset them, even in the face of war."
"It is the same for many peoples and many races," Aragorn said. "And the stronger the ability to endure large concerns, sometimes the greater the inability to endure trivial ones. Legolas is a good example of this."
Faramir raised his brow. "And since you fell victim to the same irritation as Legolas, do you also have great ability in enduring large matters?"
"Of course," Aragorn said with a look of studied innocence. "But unlike Legolas, I have learned to endure the trivial matters. You will note that I did not react, much though I might have wished to."
"Thus proving your superiority?" the other asked, and when Aragorn humbly inclined his head, Faramir laughed. "If you say it is so, my lord, then it will be so. I shall trust in your ability to endure the trivial matters, for my elven colleague is now suspect when it comes to such things. Still, of all the things that might unsettle Legolas, I did not expect it to be the sounds made by slurping wine."
Aragorn's eyes took on a shrewd look. "Must it be wine?"
"No," Faramir confessed, laughing again. "But Gimli warned that it might take some time to upset the elf, and I did not fancy slurping ale for the better part of the morning."
"You might have used water. Like Legolas, I marvel that you are yet sober enough to keep your feet."
"Ah, but that is because I never actually swallowed the wine. And that is why I always volunteered to pour the drinks when it was time to do so."
"And also why you kept the decanter on the far side of the room?" Aragorn asked, chuckling. "So the trickster is revealed, and all his deceits with him!"
"May I remind the king that it was his doubt which prompted the deceits? And in a similar vein, I do not believe we have spoken as to my settlement. There was a small wager placed on this venture, my liege, and your words are a deceit that draws attention from that."
Aragorn laughed outright. "It is well that you usually labor for me rather than against me. As you wish, then. If I remember correctly, I am now obligated to relieve you of one of your petitioners. Which shall it be?"
"Pelargir," Faramir said immediately, and Aragorn groaned. "Worry not! They have but one or two items they wish to see altered, though they are being unusually stubborn about the particulars. Yet that should prove no great challenge for you. Indeed, I believe you may be uniquely suited to this case," he added, his eyes gleaming. "For by their own words, they have described these changes as simply…trivial matters." So saying, he raised his glass, saluted his king, and took a long, slow drink.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.